17 Mar 2009

Higher death rate among Maori babies

3:12 pm on 17 March 2009

A report on infant deaths during babies' first month of life has found the rate among Maori is double that of the general population.

The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review committee found that while the stillbirth rate among Maori was not much higher than the European rate, the death rate during the first month was more than double.

Health Ministry chief youth health advisor Pat Tuohy told Waatea News this is partly due to Maori smoking during pregnancy.

He says a great deal of help is available for mothers who want to stop smoking, and it can be very effective if whanau give up smoking at the same time, to support the mother.

Dr Tuohy says poor diet is also a factor in the higher death rate among Maori babies.